Monday, May 18, 2009

She's a Little Bit Country

Anyone who knows me well knows that if I were stranded on a desert island with only one CD to listen to the rest of my life, it would be a Jimmy Buffet recording...doesn't matter which one. My ability to listen to a rotation of five CD's ad infinitum drives LaDeDa employees to the limits of their tolerance, as does my inability to throw out dead flowers. I am thankful that everyone is comfortable enough to know that, by mid-February, it is OK to take out the Christmas CD's, and that when the water in the vases of crispy carnations start to stink, they had best toss both the water and the posies, since I will not do it.

The Buffet vs Bon Jovi battle began within months of opening the store in our Washington Street location - was it '96, or '97? Jenny would know. She has all our significant dates locked in, and happily reminded me when it was time to celebrate 10 years in business. Apparently, I don't mark time the same as most.
Anyway, Jenny started working with us before our doors opened. She was still in high school, and LaDeDa was her first job. I was lucky. Jenny is bright, easy to work with, dependable, loyal, respectful, and best of all, she puts up with most of my idiosyncrasies. Except when it comes to music. She is a head-banging Bon Jovi fan, which baffles me, since she is the quietest person I know. The vision of Jenny in a mosh pit assaults my sensibilities, but for all I know, Bon Jovi concerts may not lend themselves to moshing. While Jenny was attending UW-Manitowoc, she worked at LaDeDa in the mornings while I was teaching. Many, many days I would have to spend the better part of my afternoons searching for my JB CD's. You see, Jenny's dislike of JB was as strong as my obsession, and she took to hiding his CD's. I would taunt her by slipping pictures of him into files I knew she would have to use, or drawers she would have to open. She would retaliate by tucking slips of paper with Bon Jovi song lyrics in clandestine crevices. It was all good-natured fun, and provided some laughter between the nail-biting first months of business.

Buffet fans know that he is a huge Patsy Cline devotee, referencing her in many of his songs. Although country music of the Grad Ole Opry variety hits my eardrums like nails on a chalkboard, I decided to give Patsy a try. To my surprise, I found her to be not bad. I found her to be alluring, soulful, funny, and genuine. About the time I began listening to her music, a little play called "Always...Patsy Cline" was stirring up interest around the country. In 1961, a Houston housewife, Louise Segar, struck up a friendship with Cline that continued until the singer's death in a 1963 plane crash. Louise and Patsy are the only characters in the play, with Louise recounting her growing relationship with Cline. Patsy Cline drifts in and out of the picture to punctuate Louise's story with appropriate songs. Wonderful show!

In 1955, Treva Miller Steinbrecker, a star stuck girl from Tennessee, approached Cline in hopes of establishing a fan club. Over the next four years, through an exchange of letters. Patsy Cline became Treva's close friend and confidante.

Love Always, Patsy, is the collection of that remarkable, cherished correspondence - poignant, colorful, humorous and filled with warmth and honesty. The letters reveal a young singer from Winchester,Virginia, excited at the prospects of her burgeoning career - and devastated by its impact on a volatile and demanding marriage. She shares the joy of the birth of her daughter, the strains of stardom, and her loneliness on the road to success. Above all , these letters reveal the dreams and aspirations, the private heartbreak and the public pressures of an ordinary woman who would become one of the most recognized names in the history of country music.

I never dreamed I'd find myself entrenched in the life of a country star. If you get a chance, listen to Patsy's music, read her letters...or better yet, see the show if it comes to a theatre near you.

What am I reading? Finally getting back to Snobs, by Fellowes. I started it months ago, got sidetracked, and am starting over. This biting comedy of manners gives us an inside look at the upper crust of British society, removed in time, but not is spirit from those snarky characters in Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest. The author, Julian Fellowes, won an academy award for the his screenplay of Gosford Park.

Over the weekend, I watched Mandingo, the controversial film about relationships between slaves and plantation owners. While I understand the nature of the controversy, for me, the explicit scenes were dulled by the ugliness of the slave trade in America. It is hard to fathom that those attitudes were acceptable, and that a whole race of people could be considered property, and subject to such repulsive indignities. The pulpy 1975 release paints a lurid picture of 1840's plantation life, and although it will never be declared a classic, it pushed the artistic envelope in many new directions.

*****I started thinking about word we don't hear anymore. Do any of you ever say "dilly-dally"? That's an expression worth bringing back, inso?